Long before there were inhalers or tablets, doctors relied on herbal medicine to help asthmatics. This is not surprising since many asthma drugs originated from medicinal plants. Theophylline, for instance, comes from the herb Datura stramonium while Amni visnana is the source of cromolyn ...Long before there were inhalers or tablets, doctors relied on herbal medicine to help asthmatics. This is not surprising since many asthma drugs originated from medicinal plants. Theophylline, for instance, comes from the herb Datura stramonium while Amni visnana is the source of cromolyn sodium.

The high cost of pharmaceuticals has recently revived public interest in herbal medicines. This is not bad if the herbs in question are effective and safe like their modern counterparts.

Unfortunately, herbal medicine leaves a lot to be desired, mainly because the industry is not regulated and manufacturers don't have to prove that their products are safe or effective.

Below are some herbs which are being promoted as “treatments” for asthma. Don't make the mistake of using them or you may suffer later.

Chickweed (Stellaric media) reduces the thickness of mucus in the lungs but has no effect on asthma. Large amounts can cause temporary paralysis.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a bitter herb that can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urination.

Ephedra/Ma Huang contains the stimulant ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. First used by the Chinese over 5,000 years ago, this became the basis of the first "modern" oral bronchodilator.

Today's newer medicines, however, have made ephedrine a poor choice for asthma in view of its many side effects which include blood pressure elevation, increased heartbeat, headache, nervousness, and nausea. Other adverse effects are palpitations, dizziness, insomnia, chest pain, memory loss, and stroke.

This herb was restricted in Ohio in 1994 when a high school student died after taking an over-the-counter ephedrine herbal product. Another death was reported in Texas after a woman took an ephedrine and caffeine herbal supplement.

Forskolin (Coleus forskohili) is used extensively in traditional Indian (Ayuverdic) medicine and is a potent bronchodilator. The bad news is that it is short-acting and may affect your heart.

Ginger (Zingibber ofticinale) is a popular herb that belongs in your kitchen - not in your lungs. Large doses can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and liver damage in animals.

Gingko (Gingko biloba) comes from a giant tree which has been with us since the time of the dinosaurs. Extracts of the gingko leaves have been used in China for more than 5,000 years to treat asthma but this has yet to be confirmed by more studies. What we do know is that large doses (more than 120 milligrams a day) of this drug may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, allergic reactions, restlessness, and mood swings.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is rich in protein, minerals and vitamin B but has a doubtful effect on asthma. It can cause upset stomach, burning sensations in the skin, difficulty in urination, and bloating,

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Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com.